In the decade after measles was largely eradicated in the United States in 2000, the number of reported cases of the highly contagious disease hovered around 60 each year.
But since 2010, the annual number has shot up to 155, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And in just the first three months of 2014, 106 cases have been reported across the country. Health officials are worried.
CDC issued a travel warning last month after several unvaccinated children returned to the states with measles infections from the Philippines, where the disease is still relatively common. Among physicians, some pediatric infectious-disease specialists have begun pleading with the American public to vaccinate their children.
Measles is an airborne viral infection that affects the skin and respiratory and immune systems, starting with a rash and high fever. It can be prevented with a blanket vaccination that also protects against mumps and rubella. Before widespread vaccination efforts took root in 2000, the U.S. saw about 500,000 measles cases each year, which led to 48,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths.
Right now, two outbreaks are slowly spreading on opposite sides of the country. In New York City, the number of reported cases in an outbreak that began in February rose to 26 last week. In California, 49 measles cases have been reported this year, compared with four at this time last year.
Most current measles cases have been linked to foreign sources, such as the Philippines. But the rate of U.S. parents choosing not to vaccinate their children has increased in recent years, resulting in a higher incidence of the illness. More than 90 percent of young children are vaccinated against measles in the U.S., but laws requiring immunization for schoolchildren vary by state.
California is one of 19 states that allows parents to opt out of immunizations for young schoolchildren on the basis of personal beliefs. In these states, the rate of unvaccinated children is higher. And when unvaccinated children are clustered in one region, the risk of an outbreak from an imported infection is higher. New York does not allow such an exemption.
A considerable chunk of American physicians, especially young ones, have not seen measles because of its virtual elimination 14 years ago. But as the number of reported cases continues to climb, that will likely change. And it’s only April.
For more information about measles and its prevention, visit cdc.gov/measles.
What We're Following See More »
Since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, on which Donald Trump boasted of sexually assaulting women, "Senate Republicans have seen their fortunes dip, particularly in states like Florida, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada and Pennsylvania," where Hillary Clinton now leads. Jennifer Duffy writes that she now expects Democrats to gain five to seven seats—enough to regain control of the chamber.
"Of the Senate seats in the Toss Up column, Trump only leads in Indiana and Missouri where both Republicans are running a few points behind him. ... History shows that races in the Toss Up column never split down the middle; one party tends to win the lion’s share of them."
"Some Republicans are running so far away from their party’s nominee that they are threatening to sue TV stations for running ads that suggest they support Donald Trump. Just two weeks before Election Day, five Republicans―Reps. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), David Jolly (R-Fla.), John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican running for an open seat that’s currently occupied by his brother―contend that certain commercials paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee provide false or misleading information by connecting them to the GOP nominee. Trump is so terrible, these Republicans are essentially arguing, that tying them to him amounts to defamation."
Former Illinois GOP Congressman Aaron Schock "recently agreed to pay a $10,000 fine for making an excessive solicitation for a super PAC that was active in his home state of Illinois four years ago." Schock resigned from Congress after a story about his Downton Abbey-themed congressional office raised questions about how he was using taxpayer dollars.
If you need a marker for how confident Hillary Clinton is at this point of the race, here's one: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports "she's been talking to Republican senators, old allies and new, saying that she is willing to work with them and govern."